On the 19th of February, in celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW), an interfaith dialogue called the World Alliance of Religions Peace (WARP) Office Meeting was hosted by an international peace NGO, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), at the Masjiedul Jumu-ah in Westridge, Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town.
30 religious leaders representing Christianity, Islam, Hare Krishna, and Brahma Kumaris gathered to discuss the topic of “Persecution and Discrimination within Religions”.
The WIHW, a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith, was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in a resolution in 2010 which states that “understanding and interreligious dialogue constitutes important dimensions of a culture of peace”.
The HWPL Program Coordinator, Mr. David Cranna, mentioned “Since the accident that a young lady died due to the coercive conversion program in South Korea was revealed to the world, people have gathered to support the call to eradicate human rights abuses carried out in the name of religion. According to media reports, the young lady was suffocated at the hands of her parents while being forced to participate in the coercive conversion program aiming to convert her religious beliefs.”
To solve the problem of religious discrimination and persecution, Imam, Westridge Masjid, said, “Understanding and tolerating others’ teachings and beliefs was necessary.”
The representative, Apostolic Faith Mission Church, said that the word “peace” was mentioned 68 times in the bible and just as Jesus worked for peace, we should also work to achieve peace.
An Islam student from Westridge Masjid named Nafisa Abrahams, said, “They are trying to bridge the gap of misunderstanding and prejudice against other religions. If I didn’t come and meet others from different religions here, I wouldn’t know what they are going through and what they believe in.”
During the month of February, the topic of “Persecution and Discrimination within Religions” was discussed at 61 WARP Offices in 42 countries around the world.
The quest for religious freedom and the protection of human rights abuses in the name of religion has increased as rallies have been hosted in countries around the world to honor victims of coercive conversion.
The participants in the rallies have requested the enactment of a special law to ban coercive conversion programs in South Korea.